We are taught that Hashem offered the Torah to other nations but they declined because there were prohibitions within they could not agree to. My question is, how could the Torah, which is specifically a narrative about Israel and Judaism be offered to other nations of which it was not about? Were just the mitzvot presented to other nations or the entire Torah as given to Moshe?

I don't believe this is a dupe because other questions simply ask why it was offered to other nations. My question specifies how an instruction manual ABOUT AND FOR ISRAEL could be offered to other nations with the expectation they would accept it.

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    Why do you think the entire Torah, specifically the narrative-historical parts of the Jews, is what was offered? As it hadn’t yet been committed to writing at the revelation it likely was only the legal and moral codes which were offered.
    – Oliver
    Jan 24, 2019 at 1:08
  • 3
    – Alex
    Jan 24, 2019 at 1:10
  • @Oliver, I've edited the question to include that inquiry. Thank you.
    – Ephraim77
    Jan 24, 2019 at 17:06
  • Can you please provide a couple links to similar questions and/or tag those other questions similarly so they can be more easily found?
    – Lee
    Jan 24, 2019 at 21:07
  • How to get a bike: 1. wait for grandma's birthday 2. buy her a bicycle 3. as she can't use it she will give it to you. Same here, G-d didn't really mean it we all know it, just fooling around with other nations.
    – Al Berko
    Jan 24, 2019 at 21:44

2 Answers 2


There are many that pose a similar question: If the Torah was to remain in the hands of the angels, as was their demand (תנה הודך על השמים) before being bested in debate by Moshe Rabeinu, what sort of Torah were they asking for? Did they not see the obvious questions of "Were you in Egypt? Do you do work? Do you have parents? Do you have a yetzer hora?"

One answer given in seforim (source ...) is that the exact wording of the Torah had not yet been finalized. The letters were, but not the exact tzerufim. (Similar to one explanation of Moshe writing the last 8 verses בדמע - mixed up, not "in tears".) As such, the Torah as given to the angels could have been formalized differently. I imagine a similar answer could be given for other nations.

A simpler answer is that the the Torah would have been offered to the Jews regardless. However, the nations were also offered a chance to follow the commandments and be rewarded for their efforts.

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    +1 for going in the right direction, but sources would indeed make this answer stronger
    – mbloch
    Jan 24, 2019 at 4:14
  • Very fascinating could you to source the explanation of "dema" it sounds right
    – yosefkorn
    Jan 24, 2019 at 14:04
  • I hope to look up the exact source over the next day or two. One is here: asktherabbi.org/question/who-wrote-the-torah-6, but with no source of his own.
    – Menachem
    Jan 24, 2019 at 23:51

As I understand, the source of this is Midrash Sifri, Devarim 343. It says there that aside from Esau, Moab, Ammon, and Ishmael, all other nations were approached. Now the points you raise within your question do logically point to this occurrence being unlikely. Hashem knows the Torah is not fit for any other nation. In fact, the final point of the Shema goes against this notion.

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God" - Bamidbar 15:41

He brought us out of Egypt and that is when we became his people. No other nation has that relationship with the Kadosh Baruch-Hu.

Now there's a significant amount of Rishonim and Geonim that warn us against taking all words of our Sages at face value. That they are to be examined, especially when they are not corroborated in the Tanakh and cannot be made sense of logically. Such is the case here, where the Sages in this Midrash are trying to convey a message rather than a history.

Rambam in his introduction to Mishnah Tractate Sanhedrin, chapter 10 (Perek Helek) writes quite energetically against and is quite upset with literal interpretations of such works.

I can provide more sources if needed.

  • Interesting, but the answer would be stronger if you had a source this particular midrash should be not be interpreted literally, rather than the general point that one shouldn't take all words of the sages literally
    – mbloch
    Jan 24, 2019 at 17:52
  • @mbloch No corroboration at all in Tanakh and no logical case for it. Those are the conditions of knowledge that are not met here and make this answer valid. The story is beautiful and has depth to it, but was clearly not meant as an actual occurrence. Jan 24, 2019 at 17:57

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